Accountability Still a Struggle with Hospital Infections

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Posted on May 09, 2017

According to NPR: "a recent report in the journal BMJ identified medical errors as the third-leading cause of death in the US Hospital infections."  

In an increasingly data and analytics-centerd world, it comes as no surpise that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is using reported data to determine hospital's eligibility for funding. One of the measures taken is the number of infections caught by patients during treatment; meaning that they didn't come in with an infection and they caught one during their stay in the hospital. However, according to NPR News (citing Health and Human Services) (HHS) CMS has failed to follow up on "up to 200 cases" that they were supposed to investigate suspicious infection tracking results." The data was gathered over 2013 and 2014 and released in a report by the HHS inspector general last week.

The gist of it is this; that hospitals are not being fully called to account for tracking hospital-contracted infections. CMS' program should be creating the necessary financial carrots and sticks so that they can trust in the data-driven accountability; but the measures are not being fully enforced and CMS doesn't seem to be faithfully following up on their initiative.

Although in a subsequent CMS study, only six percent of hospitals failed a random data review (and lost .6 percent of funding); the suspicion still looms that hospitals are manipulating or under-reporting their rates of infection.

In an environment like a hospital infections cannot always be prevented.   However, keeping wounds clean, central lines clear, and maintaining sterile environments is essential. Not all infections are deadly, but sepsis is a potentially fatal infection that is difficult to stop once it is has been started. In 2010, a Maryland hospital was ordered 2.3 million dollars after committing medical malpractice that led to a young woman losing part of a leg, a foot, and fingers to sepsis. Misdiagnosis but situations like this are the reason why hospitals should be complying with infection tracking. 

The stats from this 2014 article reflect that sepsis is a significant cause of deaths in hospitals.

Infections do occur in hospitals.  But failing to diagnose and treat an infection is medical malpractice in DC, Maryland and Virginia.

From the HHS study released this past Thursday, it seems like the data is still reflecting a problem.  

At Donahoe Kearney, we have seen undiagnosed or untreated sepsis in a hospital turn into a terrible outcome more than once. If you or a loved one have been the victims of misdiagnosis or sepsis in a local hospital, you need to find out more.

Call us today to speak to a real person here in D.C. (not some call center from a TV commercial).  The call is free, no obiligation and completely confidential. You can reach us at 202-393-3320 or [email protected] 

Frank R. Kearney, Attorney-at-Law
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